Archive for Thursday, May 21, 2009

Council inaction forces ouster

May 21, 2009

City Administrator Carl Slaugh, who has overseen the city’s operations for three years, has resigned, after Basehor City Council members failed to take action on renewing his contract earlier this week.

Slaugh’s contract expired Tuesday, and renewal of the pact was on Monday’s council agenda. However, no motion was made during the meeting either to renew or not to renew Slaugh’s contract. Without a motion, the item died, and Slaugh’s contract expired.

Slaugh announced his resignation Tuesday, to be effective immediately.

Basehor Mayor Terry Hill said the lack of a motion was merely the way the council chose to handle the situation.

“There just wasn’t a motion, and that was the council’s pleasure,” Hill said. “That’s just the way it happened.”

The news did not come as a complete surprise to Slaugh, who said he had noticed a difference in the council since the April city elections. At that time, Hill became mayor, replacing Chris Garcia, who did not seek re-election. Other new members elected to the council in April were David Breuer and Dennis Mertz, who replaced Keith Sifford and Roger McDowell. The council has since appointed William Moyer to fill the vacancy left when Hill became mayor.

“This is kind of like political parties at the state level,” Slaugh said. “When elections take place, positions change because parties have changed. I saw a clear shift in this council. I knew it didn’t look good.”

Slaugh, 60, is a native of Logan, Utah, who served 20 years of active duty in the U.S. Air Force. He was the community development coordinator for the city of Merriam from 2000 to 2002. He was also city administrator for Hiawatha from 2002 to 2006, after which he was appointed to the Basehor city staff at an annual salary of $65,800. At the time of his resignation, his salary was $71,531.

Slaugh said he had done his best to represent the council, and perhaps he could not have done that any further.

“As a city administrator, you try to work the projects that are supported by the majority of the council,” he said. “I suppose I didn’t meet the needs of the majority of this new council.”

In the coming weeks, Slaugh said he would proceed as anyone else would in his position, though he was not sure what he would pursue.

“I’ll just do what everyone else does when they’ve lost their job,” he said. “I’ll start applying for some vacant positions and try to stay in Kansas for my wife.”

The city will move forward, Slaugh said.

“I think the staff here is great, and they will carry on and keep moving on all these projects,” Slaugh said. “Basehor has a lot going on despite the slow economic times, and that won’t stop just because one person leaves.”

Slaugh’s tenure was not discussed in public session during Monday’s meeting, and the council met in executive session toward the end of the meeting for a total of 40 minutes to discuss matters relating to attorney-client privilege. Slaugh was called into the executive session during only the last five minutes.

Former city council member Keith Sifford said he was surprised and disappointed when he heard the news.

“During my tenure on the Basehor City Council, I had a very good relationship with Mr. Slaugh,” Sifford said. “He is a fine, decent, upstanding person, and an excellent city administrator. I am very disappointed with the actions, or non-actions of the council, and I think this is a step back for the city.”

Sifford said Slaugh wanted to remain the city administrator, and he was worried about the way the situation would be interpreted.

“What bothers me is it will go on record that his contract wasn't renewed,” he said. “Carl liked working here. He wanted to keep working here.”

Sifford also said he thought the public needed a detailed explanation about the lack of motion to reappoint Slaugh.

“There is obviously an issue here that council isn't telling the public,” he said. “If you have an issue with the guy, what is it? I am not happy about it, and I can bet a lot of other people aren't happy about it. Evidently, the only people happy about it are the city council members.”

Former mayor Chris Garcia was also unhappy to hear Slaugh had not been reappointed.

“I was sad to see it,” Garcia said. “I think he did a good job representing Basehor in the various groups and functions he was involved in. I heard many compliments from other city administrators about his work. They appreciated his input, not only about Basehor matters but in the county and other surrounding areas, as well.”

Hill said the council would decide whether to accept Slaugh’s resignation at a later time.

The council has not decided whether Slaugh will be provided any severance. The council would have to vote to offer him severance, as his contract had expired, Hill said.

The city will soon begin advertising the position and would like to have someone hired within six months. In the meantime, Hill said, the city staff would work together to make up for Slaugh’s absence. Hill said he had also considered using the services of Range Riders, a group of retired city managers and administrators who fill in temporarily on city staffs. If Hill and the council chose to do this, a Range Rider city manager would come to Basehor sometime in July for an individually negotiated amount of pay.

The 2010 budget, which Slaugh had been working on, is near completion, Hill said, and should be on the agenda for approval during one of the next two city council meetings.

Hill said he wanted to thank Slaugh for his years of service, for his dedication, hard work and professionalism.

“We wish Mr. Slaugh all the best of luck in his future endeavors and are proud to have him as a resident of the city,” Hill said.

City council members contacted by the Sentinel did not comment about the situation.

In other action Monday, the council:

• Approved, 5-0, concept plans for the 155th and Parallel Road intersection project. Matt Henderson, McAfee Henderson Solutions, presented the concept design, which includes a roundabout at the intersection.

• Approved, 5-0, to appoint KiAnn Caprice McBratney as the new city prosecutor at the mayor’s recommendation. McBratney owns the Law Office of KiAnn Caprice McBratney, and she is the former assistant district attorney for Wyandotte County.

• Approved, 3-2, a Kansas Department of Transportation transportation revolving loan for Wolf Creek Parkway in the amount of $1.5 million. Council president Jim Washington and council member Iris Dysart were opposed.

• Tabled, 5-0, approval of a KDOT transportation revolving loan for the 150th intersection project.

• Approved, 5-0, payment of approximately $100,000 to Consolidated Water for relocation of the water line on 150th Street.

• Approved, 6-0 with the mayor’s vote included, a charter ordinance repealing charter ordinances 6 and 18. These ordinances pertain to residency of appointed officers and elected officials. Ordinance 22, adopted in 2008, accurately describes the city’s policy on staff residency, and ordinances 6 and 18 are no longer necessary.

• Approved, 5-0, a 3 percent rate increase by Deffenbaugh Industries for solid waste services. The increase will be effective July 1 and will raise monthly rates by 29 cents, from $9.70 per month to $9.99 per month.

• Approved, 5-0, to have a public hearing at 7 p.m. Monday, June 15, to allow residents with delinquent sewer and solid waste accounts to voice their concerns regarding the possibility of the past due amount being added to their property taxes for collection.

• Approved, 5-0, to enroll city staff in BlueCross BlueShield health, dental and life insurance beginning July 1.

• Approved, 5-0, to enroll city staff in a VSP Vision Care plan C.

• Approved, 5-0, to appoint Mary Ann Mogle, city clerk, as the city’s MARCIT representative.

• Tabled, 5-0, until the June 15 meeting, appointment of a new member of the Basehor Planning Commission. A vacancy will exist when commissioner Jason Logsdon’s term expires at the end of June.

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